Apples are my favorite fall fruit, but pears are a close second so I decided to make this easy Pear Crisp. It's filled with delicious Bartlett Pears and the crisp topping is flavored with cinnamon, cardamom, and toasted pecans. If you like pears you'll definitely love this dessert. And if you want to get notified of new recipes sign up for my baking newsletter and join the baking club.
Why This Recipe Tastes Good
Fruit crisps are a traditional and easy-to-make dessert. If you can use almost any fruit, but pear and apple are my favorites. In this pear crisp recipe firm Bartlett pears are combined with sugar for a little sweetness and lemon juice to add a depth of flavor. Pears give off a lot of liquid while baking, so tapioca flour is added to the pears to thicken the syrup that results from baking. Most of the flavor is in the streusel. It's a delicious combination of my favorite spices, white and brown sugar and of course butter.
The Ingredients for Pear Crisp
Pear crisp, any fruit crisp for that matter, is simple to make. The streusel has seven ingredients:
- All-Purpose Flour. Adds structure to the crumble
- Light Brown Sugar. Adds sweetness and a nice molasses flavor.
- Granulated Sugar. Adds sweetness and helps the crisp get crispy edges.
- Ground Cinnamon and Cardamom. Ground cinnamon and cardamom tastes really great together. You can adjust the amount of spices and even try different combinations of spices, i.e. nutment, allspice, etc.
- Kosher Salt. Increases the depth of flavor of the other ingredients.
- Unsalted Butter. Butter is the binder for all the dry ingredients and adds fat to the recipe.
- Toasted Pecans. Pecans add a nice crunch and tastes great with the pears. Pecans are my favorite in this recipe, but you can also use walnuts or hazelnuts.
The streusel can be made up to 30 days in advance (without the nuts) and stored in the refrigerator. When you are ready to use the streusel add the pecans or your favorite nuts.
Since the spices are in the streusel topping the pear filling is pretty simple and has only 4 ingredients:
- Fresh Bartlett Pears. The pears should be firm. If they pears are too soft, they will disintegrate while baking.
- Lemon Juice. Lemon juice brightens the flavor of the pears and keeps them from turning brown.
- Granulated Sugar. Sugar is added for sweetness.
- Tapioca Flour. Tapioca flour is added to thicken the syrup that results from the pears and sugar as they bake. If you don't have tapioca flour you can substitute with cornstarch.
Because the streusel is so sweet, only a little sugar is added to the pears. Just enough to enhance the natural sweetness of the pears, but not overwhelm their flavor and their slight tartness.
Tapioca Flour produces a shiny finish to the pear crisp. If you use cornstarch, the final dessert will have more of a matte finish.
Which Pears to Use for Baking
Though all pears are delicious some are better than others for baking. For this recipe you definitely want to use the Bartlett or the Bosc pears. Both pears hold their shape beautifully and don't become too soft while baking. The pears should be somewhat firm on the bottom when you press it with your thumb. If the fruit is really soft then it is too soft for baking.
How to Make the Crisp Topping
The crisp topping can be made without nuts, but if you're making it with nuts, toast the nuts in a 350°F until they are lightly browned. When toasting nuts set the timer on the oven to avoid burning the nuts. Of all the foods that I have ever burned, I think I have burned nuts the most often. Once the nuts are cooled chop them.
In a large bowl combine the flour, the sugars, the ground cinnamon, cardamom and the salt and whisk together. Add the chopped nuts and toss to mix them in.
Cut the butter into cubes and add it to the dry ingredients. You can use a pastry blender to mix the butter into the dry ingredients, but I prefer to use my hands. I use my right hand only to work the butter into the dry ingredients and when I am done I use my left hand to clean the streusel off my fingers.
The crisp topping can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for 30 days or placed in a freezer bag and frozen. If you're making the streusel in advance store it in an airtight container and add the nuts when you get ready to make the pear crisp. You can also use almonds or hazelnuts.
How to Prep the Pears
Peel the pears and then cut them in half lengthwise from top to bottom. Take a regular spoon and scoop out the core of the pear. Then remove the hard fibrous stem that is running down the center of the pear. Lay the pear facedown and cut it lengthwise into 3 pieces and then cut it across into three sections. You should have pieces that are 1 to 1-1/2 inches in size.
Place all the chopped pears in a large bowl. Gently toss them with the lemon juice. Add the sugar and tapoica and mix into the pears. I use a large spoon to gently stir from the bottom so I don't break up the pears.
How to Bake the Pear Crisp
Scrape the prepared pears into a buttered 9 x 9-inch baking dish. I used this really nice stoneware from USA Pan and I really liked how it performed. If you're looking for a new baking pan I recommend this one or their 9-inch square Cake Pan.
Sprinkle the prepared crisp topping on top and bake in the oven until the pear juices are nice bubbly. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve plain or with vanilla ice cream.
Pro Tips for Making This Recipe
- If you want a large pear crisp. double the recipe and use a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
- While I recommend Bartlett or Bosc pears for this recipe you can use other pears that you like. D'Anjou, Red D'Anjour and Asian Pears are also good in this dish.
- This dessert is perfect for making ahead if you're making it for company. Prep the streusel the day before and have the pears cut and in the pan. Sprinkle the streusel over the pears and put it in the oven right before company arrives.
- Serve the baked pear crisp wuth vanilla ice cream.
Recipe - Frequently Asked Questions
The pear crisp is good in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. You can also freeze it by placing it in a shallow container.
Place the pear crisp in the refrigerator for 2 hours to partially thaw it out. Place it in a 350°F oven and bake it for 20 minutes or just until the fruit starts to bubble.
For pear crisp use Bartlett, Bosc, or D'Anjou pears. The pears should still be firm. If the pears are too soft they will disintegrate while baking.
I really like this pear crisp. Because there are so few ingredients the taste of the pears really stands out, so this dessert is perfect for you if you love pears.
If you make this dessert please let me know what you think. I would love to hear from you. If you post it on Instagram please tag me @bakesbybrownsugar.
More Fall Desserts
If you're looking for more fall desserts check out these delicious treats:
- 9 x 9-inch baking dish
The Crisp Topping
- 3/4 cup (105 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 8 tablespoons (114 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
- 3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
The Pear Filling
- 3 pounds Bartlett pears
- 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons (37 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons tapioca flour Bob's Red Mill
Make the Crisp Topping
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the pecans on a sheet pan in a single layer and toast for about 10 minutes until the pecans are slightly browned. Remove the pecans from the oven, allow them to cool and then coarsely chop.
- Place the flour, both sugars, cinnamon, cardamom and salt in a medium size bowl and whisk to combine. Add 3/4 cup of chopped pecans and toss with the dry ingredients to mix in. Cut the butter into small pieces, add it to the dry ingredients and rub the butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
For the Pear Filling
- Butter a 9 x 9-inch baking dish. If you've made the toasted nuts in advance preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Peel the pears, cut them in half from top to bottom, and use a teaspoon to remove the core. Cut the pears into 1-1/2 inch chunks. Place the cut pears into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the pears with lemon and toss gently to coat the pears. Sprinkle the sugar and the tapioca over the pears and gently stir with a large spoon to mix in the sugar and tapioca. Allow the pears to sit for 10 minutes.
- Pour the pears into the prepared baking dish. Cover the top evenly with the crisp topping by pressing it together into large clumps and then breaking it into smaller pieces as it is sprinkled over the top. Bake the pear crisp for 30-35 minutes until the pear juices are bubbling.
- Remove the pear crisp from the oven. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes and then serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. The crisp can sit at room temperature for one day. After that it should be refrigerated.